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The committee notes that many institutions already have guidelines intended to limit time to degree. At the Georgia Institute of Technology, for example, chemical engineers are expected to complete a PhD in 4 years, and flexibility is granted as appropriate. Other institutions allow students to receive teaching assistantships for only 4 years; still others limit the time that a student can work on a single research project.

Whatever the institutional guidelines are, they must be implemented, monitored, and enforced to ensure that graduate students are never used to provide inexpensive labor on research projects or in teaching. As the report of the Association of American Universities/Association of Graduate Schools puts it, "policy changes alone are insufficient; the commitment to implement them is crucial" (AAU, 1990). Each institution should adopt standards appropriate to its mission and student body and should charge graduate schools and their deans with oversight. That could be done at the departmental or program level. Departmental rules should be developed with the active participation of the faculty who carry out graduate education, and they must be clearly communicated to students, faculty advisers, and dissertation committees.


It is characteristic of the issues described in this chapter, particularly time to employment or first permanent job, that more information on and better understanding of them is needed, despite the problems and sensitivities involved in addressing the issues of employment, foreign students, and institutional policies concerning time to degree. Accordingly, appropriate recommendations aimed at NSF, which has the lead responsibility for gathering and analyzing information about the science and engineering enterprise, are included in the next chapter.

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